Collagen is the main structural protein in the extracellular space in the various connective tissues in animal bodies. As the main component of connective tissue, it is the most abundant protein in mammals, making up from 25% to 35% of the whole-body protein content. Depending upon the degree of mineralization, collagen tissues may be rigid (bone), compliant (tendon), or have a gradient from rigid to compliant (cartilage). Collagen, in the form of elongated fibrils, is mostly found in fibrous tissues such as tendons, ligaments and skin. It is also abundant in corneas, cartilage, bones, blood vessels, the gut, intervertebral discs and the dentin in teeth. In muscle tissue, it serves as a major component of the endomysium. Collagen constitutes one to two percent of muscle tissue, and accounts for 6% of the weight of strong, tendinous muscles. The fibroblast is the most common cell that creates collagen.
Collagen occurs in many places throughout the body. Over 90% of the collagen in the human body, however, is type I.
The five most common types are:
Type I: skin, tendon, vascular ligature, organs, bone (main component of the organic part of bone)
Type II: cartilage (main collagenous component of cartilage)
Type III: reticulate (main component of reticular fibers), commonly found alongside type I
Type IV: forms basal lamina, the epithelium-secreted layer of the basement membrane
Type V: cell surfaces, hair and placenta
Synthesis of collagen requires vitamin C as a cofactor. A long-term deficiency in this vitamin results in impaired collagen synthesis and scurvy. Hydroxylation reactions are catalyzed by two different enzymes: prolyl-4-hydroxylase and lysyl-hydroxylase. Vitamin C also serves with them in inducing these reactions. In this service, one molecule of vitamin C is destroyed for each H replaced by OH. The synthesis of collagen occurs inside and outside of the cell. The formation of collagen which results in fibrillary collagen (most common form) is discussed here. Meshwork collagen, which is often involved in the formation of filtration systems, is the other form of collagen. All types of collagens are triple helices, and the differences lie in the make-up of the alpha peptides created in step 2.
The AO vitals scan looks at collagen in the following areas:
Hair and Skin